After the Fremont school board voted early Thursday morning to eliminate sex education for the district’s fourth through sixth graders, the controversial decision, which has roiled the city since March, is now attracting Rep. Ro Khanna on the side of those who opposed the discontinuation of the program.
Congressmembers, typically stay out of local matters, especially matters such as this, which have divided the Fremont community and attracted the attention of the entire area. But Khanna weighed-in on the issue on Facebook last week, saying, “I strongly disagree with the FUSD Board’s vote to reject the 3R comprehensive sex education curriculum.”
Khanna said the repercussions for Fremont elementary school students will be drastic and will shield them from a greater understanding for the LGBT community. “Sex education is critical for the safety of individuals of all ages, and this policy will silence voices, put students in danger, and increase overall risk in our communities. I stand with the LGBT community and recognize that ownership over one’s body is a fundamental human right. I’m proud of the over 500 activists who came to the meeting ending at 2 a.m. to advocate for comprehensive education. I’m proud to be with you and I’m with the LGBT community,” he wrote.
Khanna intends to personally the address the Fremont school board soon, he added.
The debate in Fremont is also likely to be a major campaign issue in both City Council and school board elections this fall. Two members of the Fremont school board who voted to discontinue the sex education program are running for two newly-created council districts.
School board member Desrie Campbell is challenging Fremont Councilmember Rick Jones in District 2, while board member Yang Shao is running for the new District 4 seat. Larry Sweeney, who also voted against the program, is running for re-election.
This is not the first time Fremont school board members have acquiesced to social conservatives over the issue of sexuality in the classroom. In 2010, the board, with support of Lily Mei, Fremont’s current mayor and then-school board member, voted to deny a teacher the use of certain books, deeming them sexually-explicit. Mei said the highly-acclaimed book “Bastard Out of Carolina” had little academic value. Sweeney also voted to exclude the book from the teacher’s proposed curriculum.